The physical effects of certain large events, such as giant impacts, explosive volcanism, or combined nuclear explosions, have the potential of inducing global catastrophes in our terrestrial environment. Such highly energetic events can inject substantial quantities of material into the atmosphere. In turn, this changes the amount of sunlight reaching the Earth's surface and modifies atmospheric temperatures to produce a wide range of global effects. One consequence is the introduction of serious stresses in both plants and animals throughout the Earth's biosphere. For example, recent studies predict that forest lands, crop lands, and range lands would suffer specific physical and biological degradations if major physical and chemical disruptions occurred in our atmosphere. Forests, which cover over 4 times 10 to the 9th power hectares (4 times 10 to the 7th power sq km) of our planet, or about 3 times the area now cultivated for crops, are critical to many processes in the biosphere. Forests contribute heavily to the production of atmospheric oxygen, supply the major volume of biomass, and provide a significant percentage of plant and animal habitats.